Lawyers for John Eastman, a legal adviser to former President Donald Trump, advised their client to assert attorney-client privilege and invoke his constitutional right to remain silent when testifying before a special grand jury seeking to punish those who attempted to contest the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Eastman had appeared before the panel in Fulton County, complying with a summons from the district attorney, Charles Burnham and Harvey Silverglate confirmed in a statement.
"In his appearance before the Fulton County special grand jury, we advised our client John Eastman to assert attorney client privilege and the constitutional right to remain silent where appropriate," attorneys Burnham and Silverglate's statement read, NBC News reported.
"Out of respect for grand jury secrecy we will not disclose the substance of the questions or testimony. We wish to thank the grand jurors for their service."
Eastman is one of a number of Trump advisers, attorneys and allies whose testimony Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has sought to compel in the case.
"I don't think he's a legitimate target," Silverglate told The New York Times. "I don't think my client is going to be convicted of anything.
"If he is indicted, a motion to dismiss will end the case."
Former New York mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who has been told he might face criminal charges in the investigation, testified in mid-August. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is fighting his subpoena. Willis filed petitions last week seeking the testimony of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell, among others. And conservative attorney L. Lin Wood Jr. said this week he has been told Willis wants him to appear.
Willis' investigation began early last year, shortly after a recording of a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger became public. In that call, Trump sought an investigation into election fraud, saying his legal team only need to "find" enough fraudulent votes that would be outcome determinative in the presidential election.
In their statement Wednesday, Eastman's attorneys accused Willis of embarking on "an unprecedented path of criminalizing controversial or disfavored legal theories."
As Trump and his allies sought to investigate 2020 presidential election fraud, Eastman circulated what was essentially an academic proposal challenging the workings of the 130-year-old Electoral Count Act that governs the process for tallying the election results in Congress.
The first part of the plan was to put in place a slate of "alternate" electors in seven battleground states to sign certificates stating that Trump, not Democrat Joe Biden, had won their states. Willis has told the 16 Georgia Republicans who joined that effort they are targets of her investigation.
The second part of the proposal involved then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject the counting of electoral votes in states where the election has been challenged.
But Pence refused to kick contested state's Electoral College votes back to the key battleground states — even as Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, protesting the certification of Joe Biden's election.
Wood, who sued unsuccessfully to block the certification of Georgia's election results, said Wednesday he is willing to testify before the special grand jury.
Wood said a lawyer who represents him in a separate matter told him late last week that Willis' office wants to subpoena him to testify. But he said he had not received a formal request and did not know when they would want to see him.
"If they want to ask me questions, I'm happy to answer them," Wood told The Associated Press by phone. "I have nothing to hide."
Wood has long been known for his representation of high-profile clients — including Richard Jewell, who was wrongly accused in the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta — particularly in defamation cases.
In a document filed last week seeking to compel Powell's testimony, Willis noted Wood hosted meetings at his home in South Carolina "for the purpose of exploring options to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere." Powell asked Wood, who is licensed as a lawyer in Georgia, to help find Georgia residents who would be willing to serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits contesting the election results in the state, the petition says.
Wood said he did not know Powell well at the time but that she got in touch and asked if a group could meet at his home in late November 2020. He agreed to reach out to some prominent Georgia Republicans on Powell's behalf, but said he does not remember exactly who he called and whether they ended up joining any lawsuit filed by Powell.
The lawsuits filed by Powell and Wood were among many that were filed around the country in the wake of the 2020 election, many of them claiming widespread election fraud had occurred. The lawsuits were ultimately dismissed.
Information from The Associated Press was used throughout this report.
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